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Kerr powers Chelsea to Cup glory

Chelsea 3 (Kirby 3, Kerr 57,77)

Arsenal 0

att: 40,942; at Wembley Stadium

Sam Kerr scored a second half double and Fran Kirby added the other as Chelsea won the Vitality Women’s FA Cup for the third time with a dominant victory at Wembley.

The Final was actually the 2020-21 season version of the competition and Chelsea are now the holders of all three major domestic trophies, having lifted the Barclays FA WSL title and won the FA Women’s Continental League Cup Final against Bristol City back in March.

An early goal proved to be a crucial moment in the game and it came Chelsea’s way in the third minute. After Arsenal had given away possession, Kerr’s deflected pass released Kirby goal and she confidently buried her shot past Manuela Zinsberger and into the corner of the net.

Just four minutes later, Zinsberger made a crucial save to deny Kerr as she ran through on goal and the Austrian goalkeeper did even better to keep out a firm Kirby strike at her near post with a reflex save.

The Gunners were finding it hard to contain the Chelsea strikers and Kerr was to go close again when, whilst chasing a long ball forward, she shrugged off the attentions of Lotte Wubben-Moy and although this time her shot beat Zinsberger, the ball came back off the bar.

Arsenal had looked completely out of sorts and overrun up until this stage, but then began to have their best spell of the game as half time approached. They did have what appeared to be legitimate claims for a penalty just before the break as the ball looked to have hit a sliding Erin Cuthbert’s hand inside the area, but play was waved on.

Given the way the first half had gone, Chelsea would probably have been disappointed to only have been one goal ahead at half time. Jess Carter need to make a good sliding tackle from Beth Mead in the opening moments of the second half but Chelsea were quick to wrest control once again.

Kerr headed straight at Zinsberger from an Erin Cuthbert cross but the Australian, who had looked like scoring all afternoon, finally got on the scoresheet just before the hour.

Kirby’s ball down the left was chased down by Kerr, who cut inside past Wubben-Moy and drilled a shot which beat Zinsberger for pace at her near post and the Blues were two ahead.

With Jessie Fleming and Melanie Leupolz, well supported by Sophie Ingle, controlling matters in midfield, Chelsea had things completely in their hands. Arsenal brought on Mana Iwabuchi and Caitlin Foord in an attempt to give them more strength going forward but in truth, Chelsea were looking like scoring every time they attacked and were inches away from making it three as the impish Kirby ran at the Gunners defence and curled a left foot shot from the edge of the area which crashed against the post.

However just five minutes later, the game was put beyond all doubt with a goal that will long be remembered to grace the occasion. Leupolz won possession in midfield a slid a pass into the path of Kerr who powered goalwards and she took the ball into the area, she dinked a sublime effort over a stranded Zinsberger and into the far corner to spark off wild Chelsea celebrations.

Although the last stages of the game were relatively flat with the match over as a contest, Chelsea could very soon get their hands on the trophy after a display they could rarely have bettered. In contrast, it had been a day to forget to Arsenal, a sobering occasion on which they had not done themselves any justice and been well beaten.

Chelsea: Ann-Katrin Berger, Millie Bright, Jess Carter, Sophie Ingle (sub Aniek Nouwen 90mins), Magdalena Eriksson, Jessie Fleming, Erin Cuthbert, Melanie Leupolz (sub Ji So-Yun 86mins), Sam Kerr (sub Beth England 86mins), Fran Kirby (sub Pernille Harder 74mins), Guro Reiten (sub Drew Spence 87mins). Subs not used: Zecira Musovic, Niamh Charles, Jonna Andersson, Jorja Fox.

Arsenal: Manuela Zinsberger, Noelle Maritz, Stephanie Catley, Lotte Wubben-Moy (sub Simone Boye Sorensen 87mins), Jennifer Beattie (sub Caitlin Foord 70mins), Lia Walti (sub Mana Iwabuchi 61mins), Frida Maanum (sub Nikita Parris 80mins), Kim Little, Vivianne Miedema, Katie McCabe, Beth Mead. Subs not used: Anna Patten, Jordan Nobbs, Lydia Williams, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Teyah Goldie.   

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